So long, 2020; you won’t be missed. But if there was anything positive about this annus horribilis, it might have been that it forced companies to adopt new tools and technologies to help them deal with the disruption forced on them by COVID-19.

For many corporations in a broad array of industries, it was a particular watershed, as traditional ways of doing business weren’t adequate to meet mounting demands. On the one hand, new tools were needed to cope with remote workforces, while meeting the already urgent pressures on business units and vendors to become more efficient.

The impacts of the pandemic will reverberate into 2021, and technology trends that were sparked this year will, we predict, just gather force in the year ahead. Here are three to watch out for.

Automating diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion have become increasingly significant topics in the last few decades across all industries. As companies struggle to keep up with new and changing requirements and policies, most companies are breaking it down into two buckets – internal and external.

From an internal perspective, companies need to ensure their employees are feeling valued. There’s a particular spotlight on recruitment as companies change hiring practices and strive to become more inclusive and focused on diversity.

The other side is slightly different – rather than looking at policies, you focus on external stakeholders. Are the firms and vendors that you engage with diverse? Who you build business relationships with is just as meaningful as ensuring you’re inclusive within the company.

Automating these evaluations by using analytics tools and business process automation platforms is an effective way to cope with evolving organizational policies. Moreover, automation can offer a level of anonymity which can make employees feel secure when offering their feedback or opinions.

Technology will be increasingly linked to data strategy

Many businesses and business units have a lot of useful data on their hands that can be rendered valuable through the use of technology. Before you’re able to use these metrics, you need to establish an exhaustive data strategy that aligns with your business goals and values. This data strategy should fit with your overall organizational objectives.

What does a comprehensive data strategy look like?

It should determine what tasks and work should be outsourced, and what should remain internal. This speaks directly to the technologies being used, and your data strategy should determine which specific technologies are needed and which can (possibly) be gotten rid of. Marie Kondo your technology: if there’s a figurative layer of dust on a platform or product, in terms of its ability to leverage data for long-term value, it’s time to trash it!

Once this data strategy is laid out, your organization as whole or respective departments can decide which metrics matter most for you to achieve your KPIs. As time passes, the information collected will grow in importance as analysis matures. This data can then be optimally used to make meaningful business decisions.

Maturing departments will increasingly want to future-proof their tech stack

Tech stacks are at the top of a lot of minds as COVID-19 has forced many departments to take a hard look at their array of digital solutions. As work practices have been changing rapidly, it’s crucial that your tech stack can adapt, update, and integrate as quickly as possible. These are significant investments that could be the basis of your future business success, but only if you’re making the right choices.

In 2021 and beyond, smart or seasoned tech users will no longer automatically make tech investment decisions on the basis of finding point solutions to solve specific current issues. They’ll be looking at how a solution performs in terms of complementing the rest of their tech stack, and how it can help that stack keep sustaining business continuity and delivering value long into the future.

As 2021 rolls in, it’s time to figure out which of your employees and staff have to come into the office, and who gets to keep working in their bunny slippers. Automating the processes involved also means building flexibility, scalability, integration into a tech stack that’s truly future-proofed, and that’ll make it far easier for all concerned to sustain business-as-usual or cope with future disruptions.